Thursday 27 August 2020


Annoyed on the train down because three Geordie twenty somethings had obviously decided mask-wearing wasn't for them.  I can't believe they all had hidden disabilities, unless being from Newcastle fits under that category?  In any case, they described Piers Morgan as 'mint' at one stage which probably says it all. 

Colin tries to set an example.  Note the flapjack is leftover from a Surrey Travelodge breakfast box

On the next train, from Victoria to East Croydon, the police were walking up and down checking.  Shame they weren't on the LNER.  I don't wanna die yet, far too many Good Beer Guide pubs to do. 

I like Croydon.  It makes me feel alive.  Even in the murky, misty, slightly humid wild and windy morning drizzle.  It's like a Kate Bush song gone wrong innit?   Reminds me of my glory days of Leytonstone High Road back in the late 90's, or the time I went to Deptford.  True, there might be dog shit on every pavement, five fried chicken shops on every street, but as South East London goes, I just sense there's a element of local pride, humour and determination, amidst the hipster bulltwank, stabbings and fifty eight Deliveroo debasists trying to run me down.  The first three people I pass smile at me.  Name another SE post code where this would happen.

I feel liberated.  It is almost two whole weeks since Surrey, almost two weeks without a pint, and with my batteries recharged, I'm ready for action, feeling a bit bolshie, trying to strut like I actually know this place.

In truth, I've never quite cracked Croydon BRAPA-wise before today.  It's always been 'scraps'.  Passing through.  Post-football evening games at Palace, Spreadeagle with my Dad, Ship o' Fools, that was a top 'Spoons, where did that go?  Late night Monday in winter Dog n Bell, George and Green Dragon at closing time.  Time to get my final three ticks polished off, and then to do the same at the less appealing Clapham Junction. 

Long walk to South Croydon first but couldn't be arsed with the faff of connecting trains or buses, plus now I'm 'Working From Home', I need all the exercise I can get as my lifestyle is a lot more sedentary if that's the word.  I'm not looking it up, bloody sick of being weeks behind on my blog.  Sorry, seem to be in a feisty mood this evening.  Except I'm not sorry, fuck you all.  Unless my Mum or Dad are reading.  I'm kidding.  Fuck them too.  Can't play favourites.  Actually no, I love those two.

Apparently, I'm in the restaurant quarter now.  I'm glad my Guide told me, I'd never have known.  Cannot imagine putting a posh frock and some heels on and coming out here for a five star slap up effort down here, but who knows how it might change after dark.  

First pub is a Wetherspoons.  Please don't be surprised.  

Don't you love it when the outdoor seating matches your highlighter pen? 

Skylark, Croydon (1810 / 3027) and a good solid 'Spoons for starters.  Quite dark and dingy, and a group of old boys blink up at my arrival surprised to see I'm not one of their clan.  I order a beer called Sirius, very light, it doesn't taste of much but maybe that's the key at the beginning of a long day. Was gonna try and shoehorn a 'you cannot be sirius' gag in there, but decided against it.  Laurence must be the new team leader as the old boys coo "oooh, thank you Laurence ..... TEAM LEADER" whenever he walks past, and then giggle like naughty school boys whilst Laurence blinks into the middle distance and wonders if he's achieved his life's goal, or whether there's still more to come from him.   I read about Croydon airport, which sounds about as real as Consett airport, but actually, it was once a thing.  The bogs are upstairs, and glad I went, cos it helps me to establish an extra level of grandeur for this building, could've probably brought my pint up here and had a bit more natural light, but when in 'Spoons always best to sit near a group of old men in the dark talking about snooker if you want the full thrill of the experience.  

Didn't realise smoker guy outside was now pint chugging guy above.  Legend.

Prestige and decay, saw them at Manchester Punk Festival in 2017

By the time I'd walked back to East Croydon station (Google maps taking me a more difficult way involving, as Jimmy Cliff once tried to sing, many fucking horrid roads to cross) and I was poised for a tricky entrance to today's second pub, knowing it was part of some larger development called Boxpark.  More like Poxbark.

The bouncer was such a basic bitch, the dog from Neighbours with the same name would've been more helpful, and he's been dead for years.  He tells me he'd never even heard of The Cronx and doubted it was part of Boxpark.  I had to scan a Q code to get something called a Black Card, register, get him to scan the thing I'd registered on my phone, bloody 'ell, this better be worth it (but it wasn't going to be worth it, was it?)

So I walk through Boxpark, the 'Unit' numbers starting in the 40's and going backwards, suggesting I'd definitely come in from the wrong end.  As I walk through, it is worse than I expected, a foul gut churning posturing hipster clusterfuck of yappity yap yap yap.  Only the more pretentious areas of Greater Manchester can compete with London for such wankery in my opinion, though I've not been to Coalville, Shitwick or Barry Island yet so can't really judge the UK as a whole.  Having said that, York now has 'Spark', an equal I'd never have expected of my home city which explains why Harrogate are now the dominant football force.

When I get to the far end, the numbers end at 7.  WTF, I ask a lady behind a catch-all bar which definitely isn't Cronx.  Turns out I have to leave, and go round the corner.  I probably didn't need to come in here at all, or did I?  Very confusing.  Oh well, next to Calypso Kitchen, I find it, relief!

Got distracted by Calypso Kitchen, but the exterior of Cronx is pretty much exactly the same, but with perhaps more Jerk and less Roti

So I walk in and tell the aquamarine haired legend behind the bar at Cronx, Croydon (1811 / 3028) about my crazy excursion around Boxpark to get me here, and she rolls her eyes at the bit about the bouncer having never heard of them as though it's exactly the kind of thing they'd do!  Really like her, down to earth, good sense of humour, very cool, very Croydon.  No cask on as apparently 'there isn't enough demand' so I go for some strong expensive portery stouty fizz to compensate.  It does the job.  She tells me it's her last day.  She doesn't look too disappointed.  And it's going to be my only visit here.  Unless I get kidnapped and brought her against my will.  She calls me to the door a few minutes later as there's traffic mayhem and I have to pretend I have a basic knowledge of the Croydon transport system.  Someone has removed some sign for a cordoned off area to make it look like a road has reopened, but when cars get so far, they realise it hasn't, and have to do a three point turn into oncoming traffic.  It is a surprise it isn't causing total carnage, but it makes for a more exciting outlook.  I'm not gonna slag of Cronx because you wouldn't come here for pub ambience, you'd come here either for socialising purposes or because you are a serious beer person drinking serious beer person drinks.  Bench seating, settles, vaults and snugs don't mean much to their intended clientele of that I'm sure.  Still, steady stream of customers means I'm not alone.  A father & son angrily debate footballers not signing contracts, before a dude walks up and says "I'd recognise that Cauliflower anywhere!"  That's a new one!  I ask him who the bloody hell he is, without saying that, and he says Citra.  Wow, another twitter pub legend BRAPA debutant, shame I've done the tick but he says he'll come to next pub with me.  Good times.  Like it when the day takes a twist, a citrus twist?  Hmmm, leave that one with me. 

Even with Google Maps and both of us on the case, seemed a bit of a tricky one to find hidden up in the backstreets north east of the station.

Well, Citra, if you're here, you may as well be useful and take a photo of me .......

Builders Arms, Croydon (1812 / 3029), and breathe - well apart from the fact it was so warm n stuffy you couldn't, but this was more like it, a proper wooden basic old Fullers pub that felt reassuringly more drinker than dining led.  You never know quite what you are going to get from Fullers.  The two Eastern European ladies behind the bar seemed friendly to the point of being a bit hyper, to the point of being a bit mischievous, like there was some joke going on that we weren't party to.  Still no ESB, probably just as well, Pride and Dark Star Hophead still all they are doing.  The Hophead is top stuff.  After a bit of a wander, we settle in the back room behind the bar.  There's a bit of jukebox mayhem going on behind us, and despite the lack of people, the pub has a great atmosphere.  As we admire the chalk drawing of the Fullers Griffin thing on the board, one of the barmaid's pops up delighted, cos she's drawn it.  We tell her how talented she is, and that seems a nice way to finish our pints off and leave, Citra of course doing his debut green highlighting under the watchful gaze of Colin who loves it when we have a visitor.  

So, Croydon finally greened off in full after over six years of trying.  Now for Clapham Junction.  Join me after the Bank Holiday weekend for tales of that one, as I have overnight southern trips to come.  And just when I my blogs were finally catching up.  Life can be so cruel! 


Wednesday 26 August 2020

BRAPA in ...... HERSHAM POISE (Surrey Part 17/17)

Apologies if you noticed (you probably didn't) but I 'released' my 'Bonus Extras' blog too soon when actually, I'd done these three pubs earlier in the day.  Anyway, it's all just me rambling about pubs and long walks so it shouldn't ruin the continuity too much.  Here goes ......

Waking up on Sunday morning, the last of NINE consecutive days of pub ticking (a new BRAPA record), I had very little left to give, both physically and mentally.  My liver probably showed the most scars, luckily I couldn't take it out and examine it.  Plus that would've messed up my Travelodge room.  Every part of me ached.  My legs were a sea of cuts and bruises from various walking injuries.  I was sunburned, dehydrated and headachey and my dodgy left knee I don't like to talk about was feeling the strain.

I took pity on Colin and left him on the bed, my one concession to 'having a day off' and set off for Hersham.  

As I sat alone on Hersham station watching the non-stopping trains shooting past, I had to steel myself for one final push. I swigged some overpriced vitamin fruit drink, and set off for today's first pub.  I needed it to be good, and luckily I wouldn't be disappointed.  

11:55am when I arrived.  A bit too early.  An old guy was already sat, half in a car waiting, poised to enter the second the doors flung open.  I could hear ABBA playing.  Remember when Mudgie told me you enjoy ABBA more the older you get?  Still the wisest thing anyone has ever said in a BRAPA setting, and I've met Protz and Lager.  

I crossed the road and stood in the shade of this dry grassy area opposite the pub.  I took my eye off the ball for literally one minute, to reply to some BRAPA related comment on Twitter (think it was Eddie Fogden, can we shame him now?), and when I looked up, the pub door was open and man had already been served!

How I needed a good start to the pubbing day to get my motivation back, and how superbly the Royal George, Hersham (1805 / 3022) delivered on every front.  An excellent no-frills boozer, here was me worried all this talk of Thai food was going to detract from the atmosphere, but not a bit of it, a wonderful Young's house, large but homely with friendly staff and nicotine (yellow) coloured walls to evoke those old time memories.  The old guy was called Mario, turned out he was 91 and very sprightly for it I must add, too easy to make a Super Mario joke, and my 'physical age' at this moment in time was probably about 116 so no shame him outpacing me!  The kind landlady made a point of coming over for a chat with him before the lunchtime rush started.  And then a local couple who loved talking about the 'situation in Melbourne' did the same, he was a popular guy.  They asked him why he'd recently changed from his regular crisp variety.  Observant too.  They said their surname was 'Young' as though they might get a discount in a pub such as this!  I paid in cash, which was rare this week.  Track & trace wise, I think this was the only pub to ask for my postcode all week, so in my head I was trying to think what YO could stand for which was closer than York if it became a problem.  Maybe there is a Surrey village called Yokeltown I can make up if I get questioned.  No chance I'd get questioned, pub was far too relaxed and an assortment of chirpy local drinkers were assembling fast, drinking, standing up too quickly and going "ooooh aaah!" as forgotten lumbago returned to bite.  They did a lot of laughing, you know, the thing people should do in pubs.  Loved my pint of Young's Original, it seemed life-giving.  Sadly, I was on the clock as ever so couldn't relax for long.  After a quick loo trip, I tried to exit out the back gate but it was bolted which serves me right for trying to be too clever.


It was a fair old walk down to Walton-on-Thames with the rising heat, fairly busy main road and my various ailments I don't like to talk about, but at least there were two GBG pubs when I got there.

Here was the first, looking quite unlike the Royal George .......

One of the most boring pubs I visited all week was here at Walton Village, Walton-on Thames (1806 / 3023) and on arrival, I tried to impress the guy who greeted me by telling him I'd downloaded the 'Urban Village App' in advance.  If I was hoping for brownie points, he simply waved a general hand in the direction of the only table that wasn't clearly marked with a number!  It took me so long to fathom this out, and create an account for a pub chain I'll probably never use again, that an older couple who arrived five minutes after me but demanded he served them there and then got their drinks quicker than me.  The Pride was the only ale on, and when it did finally appear,  didn't seem to be 'drinking as well' as others this week, but I guess £4.20 was cheaper than some.  On the way to the loo, I found an area called the 'Village Hall', a kind of slightly raised secluded drinking / dining area, and I guess whoever designed this place has never been to the Appleton Thorn equivalent in Cheshire.  On the way, a person of unspecified gender (not that it matters, #WokeSi2020TransRights) gently told me off for walking the wrong way, and when I pointed out that you have to admit it is a bit confusing, they seemed unconvinced by my argument.  I found the whole fake wood panelling a bit wearing, and it was with some relief when I finished my pint and headed off for Walton Pub 2.  

I know the feeling pal

Dash of lime could've been interesting

Not Appleton Thorn

HSBC to appear as a GBG micropub by 2025?

 Just up the road on an impossibly busy road junction, the day had its second George already .......

Was worried these two might just get in before me, but I managed to sneak through the gap

Rarely has a pub been as empty all week as the George Inn, Walton-on-Thames (1807 / 3024) which was even more of an achievement for a sunny Sunday lunchtime in a busy location!  The guv'nor seemed a canny, if slightly stoic guy, if there were tears in his eyes at his delight in finally having a customer, he did well to disguise it.  My second Shepherd Neame pub of the hols, my second cheeky little pint of very nice Spitfire, and so bored was I at the absolute lack of action that I invented a joke.  "What do you call a film about a fish that got lost in a pint of Spitfire?"  "Finding Shepherd Neamo".  Thanks.  A tanned man did arrive, but looked unimpressed as though he could hear my joke in his head, so I went outside to the crummy little courtyard / smokers area where I found two more customers.  My turn to be teary eyed.  The windchimes tinkled in the breeze, then the Foo Fighters came on with surprising vigour.  The hubbie was making fun of Arsenal for winning the cup (not sure how), and the lady had the same hair as my line manager at work.  And that was that.  My overall message to Walton-on-Thames CAMRA would be 'if you don't have GBG standard pubs, perhaps best to forgo them so a different CAMRA with a stronger suit can take their places.  Though I suspect it doesn't work like that!

He hates my joke

And not even a cauliflower for company

But don't worry about me, my next pub would turn out to be one of those surprising gems that no one tells you about.  Join me for that in the Surrey Bonus Features tomorrow  last night.  And I'll errm, tell you about Croydon tomorrow evening before I head off on the Bank Holiday Spesh.  


Tuesday 25 August 2020


And when I say 'bonus extra blog', what I mean to say is that, having told you all along that was a 17-parter,  I'm not going to suddenly admit to you that I miscounted and it should've been 18 parts.

The maths seems kind of simple, nine days away, two blogs for each day.  9 x 2 = 18.  But I was thinking 51 pubs visited for the week, blog three at a time.  51 / 3 = 17.  Oh well, never mind.  

As if I hadn't done enough crazy walking this holiday, I now decided to walk from Walton-on-Thames to Shepperton.  If there were buses, I couldn't see them.  To rub salt into the wound, the pub was a long way through Shepperton, more likely a place called Littleton.  

When you need a pee, the last thing you want is for the pub to be located on a side road called Watersplash.

Still, as the Beautiful South once said, 'I kept it all in', and I even hovered by the entrance which had loomed over me quite suddenly and urgently, so I had to step back to get a sense of perspective.  This allowed a cheeky faced middle-ager with a face like a slab of processed tinned turkey to just nip in ahead of me.   It would prove costly.

Good pubs don't need to show their name

Barley Mow, Shepperton (1808 / 3025) was the final real hurrah of this epic nine day Surrey BRAPA extravaganza.  It was like a beautiful time-warp.  Largely unfazed by the strangulation of strict restrictions, I'm not just talking pre-March, but you could've probably been in the 1980's, maybe even earlier.   You still had a track 'n trace, sanitiser and the thickest perspex screens of the week, but the pub was such a hive for gregarious old crocks, the threat of Covid probably didn't concern them anymore than an asteroid hitting their homes.  Hitting the pub, now that would be a cause for concern.  The last in a long line of 'wow, how has nobody told me about this cracker?' type of pubs, where I soon I posted about it, people were like "oh yeh yeh yeh, a true dyed in the wool classic".  Typical of my week.  The bloke who'd cheekily snuck in front of me had just finished up his order when a taxi pulled up outside the open door behind us.  He recognised them, and ended up having to buy another 4 drinks!    As locals shimmied in at the side of me to get cheeky refills, this probably was the longest wait for a drink all holiday, but that would be my only criticism here.  Even when I did get served, the perspex was so thick, she couldn't hear me.  Now one beer you don't want to be shouting at the top of your voice is 'Naked Ladies!', and yes, of course it went silent when I bellowed it a second time.  In fact, the only other time I remember choosing this ale, a similar thing happened.  Jan 2014, Happy Man, Englefield Green.  Quiet pub.  Had to repeat myself, just at the moment a ladies hockey team walked through the door.  Great pint, but am never ordering it again.  I sat on this table towards the far end amidst a bunch of Formula One enthusiasts, this was an ornate beauty, like a working man's Admiral Benbow in Penzance in some ways with less frivolous fun and more true grit!  Complimentary snacks on each table.  I was merely concerned with the bowl of peanuts (I'm allergic) infecting the crisps if someone had 'double dipped'.  It was only back in York about 5 days later that I realised in these 'restricted' times, shared snacks on tables is probably not something many pubs would be doing!  I scoffed the full bowl of crisps anyway and lived to tell the tale.  Fantastic pub.  

Incredible, I hope the above pictures give you a sense of the atmosphere, perhaps not the bottom one!  Back in the direction I'd come from, it was never my intention to walk ALL THE WAY to the next pub, for if I didn't pick up a bus, surely a train from Shepperton was imminent?

Wrong!  I'd just missed the hourly train, and decided it was best to just plough on in what had become a week of insane walking.  Past Upper Halliford, skirting around a few roadworks, and finally a long  straight path along the Thames, past Sunbury Park, got a bit stuck behind an eclectic mix of locals .....

.... and just when hope seemed lost, the pub stood out on the corner like a beacon in the evening sunshine.

They all want their 5 seconds of BRAPA fame don't they?  Oi mate, shift yer sen.

A bit like the George in Walton earlier today, I was quite shocked to walk in and see a totally deserted pub here at White Horse, Sunbury-on-Thames (1809 / 3026), wrapped in plastic as though the removal men were about to descend and remove all the contents!  I peered around and through some polythene wrapping, where a barmaid was hiding.  I felt obliged to ask if I could even get a drink!  London Pride it was, and I'm delighted to tell you it was drinking extremely well.  No way I was staying in this bore-hole though, and luckily a courtyard offered some much needed life, eventually.  At first, everyone was just sat stock still, like they'd been incapacitated by some Spanish flu style thing(!)  But when a guy points at a flower on the wall of the pub and asks a lady on a neighbouring table what it is, she tells them Begonia.  Or was she saying 'be gone with ya?'  Whatever, him and his mate spent the next five minutes slurring the word Begonia.  They were determined to squeeze a few R's into it.  Get the R rate up maybe.  And when they got bored of that, they started singing Mull of Kintyre in a West Country accent, and seemed a bit surprised when no one else joined in.  What with all the social distancing, the week had been lacking true classic BRAPA moments of strangeness, so this was a pleasing end!  

He'll wake up in a minute

And I nearly, so nearly, went in for a cheeky 52nd pub tick as one of the many places I had to change from Sunbury to get back to Guildford was Surbiton, where I knew from a previous trip with Tom Irvin and Father BRAPA there was a very ornate 'Spoons just outside the station called Coronation Hall.

But because I was on a slightly dubious ticketing arrangement, and the 'manoeuvring'  on the train lines was rather intricate, I decided the safest, simplest thing was to get back to Guildford and have my 'post match debriefing' there.

Not a bad effort, could've been even better with a bit more luck

And it seemed apt to end my journey at the place it all began, a week the previous Saturday at 10am at the Rodboro Buildings Wetherspoons.  The people were a lot crazier on this Sunday night, and as I sipped my TEA (Traditional English Ale if you wondered), I had to feel content.  51 pubs ticked, 52.5 pints drunk (plus 4 tasters), spent approx £215 on beer, walked 87 miles (and that is actually a conservative estimate), £50 spent on taxis, and who knows what on food, buses, trains etc.  

Still time for one last moment of joy, as two lads who don't know each other are introduced by a mutual friend.  One of the two lads decides to tell of a 'conquest' with a Claire Taylor, and the fact he was acting like some kind of super stud was all the more amusing as he had the voice of that "in 1984, no one died, in 1985 no one died" guy from The Day Today, I think played by Steve Coogan.   They met at Popworld.  Ultimately, he had to break her heart the following day.  "I wanted a walk around Petersfield Pond, but she wanted much more than that.  We went to lunch at Wetherspoons, and that was it".  

It was a fun anecdote to end a week in a county which had so exceeded expectations, I just couldn't have expected it.  Well, obviously, that's what exceeded expectations do!

Just shows if you get into the nooks and crannies of any county, gems can be found, well apart from maybe Bucks and Beds.  

Of those I missed, well Dorking and Reigate can go to hell cos I tried.  Whyteleafe last I heard was just acting as a shop.  Camberley, Chobham and Lyne I might try and get done when I'm over Hampshire way in October.  The others I'm going to try and have a crack at over the forthcoming bank holiday weekend, combined with a cheeky bit of West and South London, but strategically avoiding Wimbledon area as Hull City go there in 2020/21 and it could be a fun day with Tom, Dad and my Cauliflower.

See you all tomorrow at the earlier time of 9pm when we'll have a few serious thoughts about Croydon and it what means.


Monday 24 August 2020

BRAPA in ...... EPSOM ASSAULTS (Surrey Part 16/17)

 'Is he STILL writing about Surrey?'   Fear not dear reader, if you can prove you have read every part by answering a complex multiple choice question correctly, you will be entitled to a free BRAPA beermat, badge and sticker.  If you meet me in a GBG pub I've not been in before, on an odd date of the month, but not a Sunday.  Or in the south west. Other T&C's may apply.  

Where was I?  That's right, Epsom, and a short walk from my 1802nd current Good Beer Guide tick, situated 'twixt a big pond and the 'Stamford Green Public Open Space'.  No surprise then that it was 100% undiluted posh Surrey.

You waiting lads or can I get past cos BRAPA waits for no man? 

Most rugged part of the pub. Though a micro would have me sit on one of these.

Cricketers, Epsom (1802 / 3019) was no more memorable than Jolly Coopers, but that's not to say it was particularly poor in any way, just a bit OTT.  This seemed to be a 'no way you are sitting indoors' pub and at the entrance, a smart young gent hovered at a desk under a crazy wooden white structure gave me one of the more complex Covid Manifestos of the holiday, and once I'd Q coded, sanitised and solemnly sworn to adhere to all rules at all times, I was allocated table 27 where I chose to face the giant pond.  Watching coots, moorhens and Canada geese all vying for position on the bank was certainly the most interesting thing to happen here.  Once I'd 'adjusted' myself, I was told to follow the arrows indoors where you had to order from behind some of the week's thicker perspex, but pay a different staff member at a different window.  I was told not to wait for my drink, as they'd bring it out for me.  This was all a bit Krypton Factor-esque for a mind as fragile as mine. Always nice to see a customer even more unsuited to the pub than me, so when a tracksuited young Mark E Smith arrived, snarled, chatted to himself, drank a Guinness in about 5 minutes, and went back inside to try and find another, I had to respect him amidst the mummies, buggies, babies, bearded daddies and plummy voiced tanned elders.    He was up there with the water birds as my pub saviour.  

Sexy perspexxy

Work in progress

Best view in da house

Big white entrance structure

Goosie having a gander

Back into 'down town' Epsom, my third pub offered something very different from the previous two.  As a disclaimer, I'd just like to say now that I could see myself enjoying this pub 19/20 visits, so I imagine I was just unlucky today.

A bit like the Running Stream in Weybourne before it, the Rifleman, Epsom (1803 / 3020) was one of those surprisingly 'boozery' Greene King pubs, exactly the sort of interestingly shaped tight-knit pub you'd expect to find lurking mysteriously by a railway bridge.  Shocked on entrance, as it was a full on free-for-all with jolly blokes filling the floor space.  I glance up.  Of course, FA Cup Final, and suddenly it made sense that in the preceding days, I'd seen stern blackboards in many pubs saying "we will not be showing the cup final on this TV".  At the bar, I'd barely completed the 'transaction' and was just working out how I could reverse myself out of this tight space when the lady who serves me barks quite abruptly "you can't stand here!" and encourages me outside through the back door.   I had no intention of staying put, especially as I was worried my fat head was blocking the view of the screen for the guy to my left.  Pretty unimpressed, I perch on a table just outside the door, and maybe realising she'd been a bit abrupt, follows me out and says 'sorry but we can't have people stood at the bar' which is fine, if it wasn't for the fact a few locals were!  Plus the floor space was awash with folk.  I've deliberately avoided shaming pubs that haven't done enough Covid wise, but this was hypocritical.  If I'd been old Jack who comes in here every day, it'd be a different story.  And after Cricketers, well it is just one extreme to another, isn't it?   I didn't like the bench I was perched on either as a Mummy and Daddy were teaching ole' twildface different animal noises!  Luckily, I'd spied a perfectly formed garden area beyond this backyard, and my mood improved significantly as a couple of folk smiled, and a group of young 'Arsenal fans' who couldn't be bothered to watch the game relied on their excitable mate in a Pepe shirt to come outside and give them score updates.  Was 1-0 Chelsea when I arrived, 2-1 to Arsenal in end, so everyone seemed happy even though I'd have expected more Chels than Ars here, it wasn't the case!  My pint was top quality, and on the way out, I saw the same barmaid again but this time I smiled, said thanks and goodbye, because well, life is too short innit? 

Was a good humoured atmosphere out here, which me n Col approved of

The lads await the latest Pepe update

Colin is a Merthyr Tydfil fan, so he ain't interested

Back in Guildford, I was half tempted to call it a night, but a 4 pub total on a Saturday isn't really good enough (even though I could probably strike out Cobbett's in Dorking, for one guide at least)  so I decided to tackle Tongham.

My mind was a sea of logistics as I planned the timings, and noticing I didn't quite have enough time to bus it both ways, but the bus back went straight past my Travelodge, I could use my emergency taxi fund there, get my 'evening snacks' in Tongham, and get the bus back.

Knowing I'd not have much time to buy the snacks en route to bus stop if I was to spend 25 mins in the pub, I even did a virtual tour of the shop in advance so I knew the layout!  This was peak BRAPA planning.


 The taxi driver did the classic Surrey thing of thinking that getting me to Tongham was enough, and if we saw the pub, it was a bonus.

When i pointed it out, he quickly turned around at a junction and asked me if I was okay here, just the one busy road to cross, his fault if I get run over, so I said ok.

Oops looking at this photo now makes me realise I exited through the wrong door

I shouldn't have been too shocked, being 'west o' Guildford' going out Aldershot way, but the White Hart, Tongham (1804 / 3021) had that same 'take no prisoners' atmosphere of some of yesterday's pubs in places like Wrecclesham, Upper Hale, Weybourne and Churt.  A kind young lad serves me, and I take my place in an inviting curved bench seating area on the right hand wall.  This is a refreshingly basic bar room, facing a screen which was initially showing FA Cup highlights, and eventually Pointless Celebs.  A drunk Michael Sheen (not on TV) wanders into my eyeline, does a weird dance with his elbows, and then gets into trouble for telling the barmaid he can't appreciate her new hairstyle cos he can only focus on her tits.  He's encouraged to leave, but he kind of staggered out anyway, and am glad cos didn't want him starting on Colin's man boobs (he calls them florets), we'd already decided not to make any eye contact with him.  The pub had barely caught its breath, when a panicky bloke comes in screaming "av' you seen my sunglasses?"  He makes a b line for my table, and is down between my legs groping about whilst myself and the barman have a brief look but are none the wiser.  He leaves, and his girlfriend comes in two minutes later and finds them immediately, in full view on the ledge Colin has been sitting underneath.  "BLIND TWAT!" she screams, and it was hard to know which of us she was addressing.  The staff then start watching videos of some kind of car rally/Formula One stuff on a phone, there is amazement on Pointless when Ken Hom chooses the overly obvious answer of David Walliams, and I realise I need to neck my pint and get to the Nisa Local, amazing how much you can pack into 25 minutes isn't it? 

Nisa went well, but panic at the bus stop (is that an Emo band?) because the times on the stop don't match my App and were 10 minutes ago!

But there's one of those 'track live bus times by texting this number' things so I do, and the time it returns to me matches my App, and not what is on the stop!  Madness, relief, confusion, who is to say?  It doesn't matter.  As I look up, the bus trundles around the Tongham corner only 5 mins behind, and drops me right outside my Travelodge.  Great times.  Early night, last push tomorrow!